Celts Top Sixers in Potential 1st Round Preview

The Boston Celtics outplayed the Philadelphia 76ers -- a potential first round playoff opponent -- in every facet of tonight's contest, prevailing 99-82.

The Celtics seem to be peaking at the right time. Though some believe these last few games are meaningless, I think it provides a team that hasn't had its full compliment of players healthy all season a chance to mesh.

Forward Paul Pierce led the way with 18 points, seven boards, and four assists. The captain knocked down 6-11 attempts, including 3-4 from deep. Point guard Rajon Rondo added 16 points and 13 assists.

Center Nenad Krstic and forward Troy Murphy both returned from injury. Krstic tallied eight points on 4-5 shooting, while Murphy played only 2:48 of garbage time.

For the 76ers, rookie guard-forward Evan Turner scored a game-high 21 on 9-14 shooting. Elton Brand, Jrue Holliday, Jodie Meeks, and Andre Iguodala also recorded double-digits in the scoring column.

After a sloppy 1st quarter in which Holliday and Meeks combined to drop 18 of Philly's 26 on 7-10 shooting, the Celts cracked down on the defensive end. From that point on, Boston allowed only 56 points and held the 76ers to 39.3% shooting on the night.

The Celtics also closed out the game on a high note, something they've struggled with in past contests. Boston outscored Philadelphia 24-17in the final frame.

With the win, Boston improves to 54-23, while the Sixers fall to 40-38. The C's return to action Thursday night in a primetime showdown with former assistant coach Tom Thibodeau, MVP candidate Derrick Rose, and the rest of the Chicago Bulls.